A bloody object that was suspected to be fetal remains in an Illinois middle school bathroom turned out to be a feminine hygiene product.
A custodian found the object after school on Oct. 4 in a girls' bathroom at Wirth-Parks Middle School in Cahokia, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
"At this time, it's a very small amount of mass, so it's very difficult just by sight to determine what this is, and until we get a medical examination, that will determine the direction of our investigation at that point," said St. Clair County Sheriff's Department Capt. Bruce Fleshren when the story was first reported, according to the Riverfront Times.
Police were at the school for more than three hours investigating the incident, and a coroner was called. After the object was taken to a hospital, medical professionals said the item was not the remains of a fetus, but a blood-covered feminine hygiene product. It was not clear from the report if it was a tampon or a sanitary napkin.
"It was difficult to make a positive determination at the scene because of being submerged and the way the item was wrapped," said Fleshren in a release on Oct. 5. "The staff at Wirth made the correct call to make sure there were no other issues at hand, and for a proper examination to be done."
School Superintendent Art Ryan encouraged parents to talk with their daughters about the incident, before the object was revealed to not be fetal remains.
"If you have a daughter that attends our middle school, I would talk with them, try to be honest with them, see what they have to say and just, you know, make sure that they're alright and they seem OK," said Ryan.
The topic of fetal remains also made headlines when a federal judge found unconstitutional two abortion restrictions surrounding fetal remains put into place by Vice President Mike Pence during his time as Indiana governor, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports.
Judge Tonya Walton Pratt said House Enrolled Act 1337, which barred a woman from getting an abortion if the decision was based on the diagnosis of disability or abnormality in the baby, or based on the fetus' race or ancestry, was "inconsistent with the notion of a right rooted in privacy concerns and a liberty right to make independent decisions."
"Before viability the state's interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion or the imposition of a substantial obstacle to the woman's effective right to elect the procedure," argued Pratt. "Accordingly, the court concludes that the anti-discrimination provisions of HEA 1337 are unconstitutional."
The law had also stipulated that for fetal remains that were not taken home by patients, abortion providers must bury or cremate the bodies, instead of disposing of them as medical waste.
According to Pratt, the state didn't need to mandate these guidelines, as the Supreme Court has previously ruled that a fetus is not a person.
Even if the state did have a legal interest in these requirements, Pratt said, the law would still allow women to claim and dispose of fetal remains however they wanted to, along with allowing for fetal remains to be cremated en masse, neither are which are permitted for human remains in Indiana.
Pratt's ruling is a permanent injunction that would prevent the state of Indiana from enforcing the provisions outlined in the act.
Sources: Riverfront Times, Belleville News-Democrat, Times of Northwest Indiana / Featured Image: Steve Viale/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: U.S. Department of Transport/Wikimedia Commons, Dean Hochman/Flickr